Thu, 08 Feb 2018
SOUTH KOREA - South Korea's self-sufficiency for dairy foods fell to under 50 per cent last year for the first time, statistics showed Wednesday, apparently from manufacturers cutting back on production due to the declining birthrate.
Data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Korea Dairy Industries Association (KDIA) said South Korea produced 1.88 million tons of dairy foods while importing 1.97 million tons during the January-November period in 2017. With imports exceeding local production for the first time, the self-sufficiency rate dropped to 48.9 per cent.
"Dairy imports usually increase in December. There is virtually no possibility of the situation changing," an industry official said.
The country had been able to manufacture well over 90 per cent of domestic demand in the early 1990s. The self-sufficiency rate fell to 68.8 per cent in 2009 and to 59.9 per cent in 2012 before sliding to 51.7 per cent in 2016.
Industry officials said the falling numbers have to do with the declining consumption of milk, partly due to fewer newborns, while consumers accustomed to westernized food look for cheese, butter, cream and other dairy products that are mostly imported.
"It's best to maintain an appropriate level of self-sufficiency, and it's a concern that the rate has dropped to less than 50 percent," a KDIA official said. "This trend will probably continue unless the declining milk consumption from the chronic low birthrate and other problems are solved."